UN's Serry 'deeply concerned' over South, Gaza violence

Special peace-process coordinator calls for "complete halt to the firing of rockets from Gaza, display of maximum restraint by Israel."

August 25, 2011 15:37
2 minute read.
United Nations Middle East envoy Robert Serry

UN spokesman Robert Serry (R) 311. (photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)

UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry on Thursday expressed deep concern over a resurgence of violence in Gaza and southern Israel.

"In the interest of protecting the lives of civilians and for the calm to succeed, a complete halt to the firing of rockets from Gaza and a display of maximum restraint by Israel are required,” Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted Serry as saying.

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The UN official urged all sides involved "to immediately take steps to prevent any further escalation.”

Wednesday saw a renewal of hostilities after a relative period of quiet following Hamas's call for an informal ceasefire on Sunday.

In response to rocket salvoes fired throughout the day across southern communities, the IAF struck targets late Wednesday night in northern and southern Gaza, the IDF Spokesman's Office announced in a statement.

"During a night air assault, a storage site in northern Gaza and a tunnel used for smuggling and weapons manufacturing in the southern Gaza Strip" were struck, the statement said, adding that direct hits were identified.

Palestinian sources claimed that the Israeli air strike targeted an Islamic Jihad sports facility, killing three people and wounding several more.

The IAF strikes followed a barrage of at least 20 rockets that were fired at Israel's southern communities Wednesday night. A 9-month-old baby was hit by glass splinters when a rocket fired at Ashkelon Wednesday evening exploded near a house in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. A car caught fire and was destroyed, and damage was also caused to several structures.

The evenings rocket fire came after a the IAF targeted and killed  Islamic Jihad-affiliated terrorist Ismail al-Asmar in the Gazan city of Rafah early on Wednesday morning. Asmar was involved in smuggling weapons and sought the execution of terrorist activity in Sinai. He operated with terror elements in the Gaza Strip which have recently made several attempts to execute terror attacks in Sinai and on the Israel-Egypt border, according to the IDF.

Later on Wednesday morning, two terrorists who had fired rockets at Israel from two separate locations in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted and hit by IAF aircraft.

The security cabinet was expected to meet on Thursday to discuss ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza.

A Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Sdot Negev Regional Council area on Thursday afternoon. No injuries or damage were reported in the attack.

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